Isis’ divine position in ancient Egypt
Temples Dedicated to Goddess Isis
Temples of Philae
The Temples of Philae stands on one of the islands in the Nile River. Its original place was on Philae Island in Aswan. The ancient Egyptian name of Philae was Pilak. The Greek and Latin Philae derives from that name, Pilak. During the Islamic era, the local people called it El-Qasr or the Castle in English. Also, they named it Geziret Anas el-Wogud, after the hero of one of the tales, “Arabian Nights.“ According to this tale, her father locked her up on Philae. Therefore, this hero traced his beloved to this island.
After building the High Dam in Aswan, there was a need to move this complex to the next island, Agilika. For this reason, Egypt welcomed the help of UNESCO. Thus, the engineers and builders decided to reconstruct this temple complex on Agilika Island. Agilika lies 12 km to the south of the High Dam.
History of Philae Temples
The oldest surviving temple buildings date back to Nectanebo I (370 BC). Today’s imposing buildings were erected by the Ptolemaic Kingdom in the last two centuries BC and by the Roman Emperors in the first three centuries AD. And, the Great Temple of Isis is the most prominent building in this complex.
As Nubians were the last to convert to Christianity, the temple remained serving the goddess, Isis. However, Justinian announced Christianity as the country’s official religion (AD 527-565). After that, the Christians used it as a church.
The island was one of the most beautiful places in Egypt and attracted large numbers of visitors every year. Just after the construction of the Aswan Dam in 1922, water merged it for a significant part of the year. For this reason, the temples were accessible only between August and December. Once again, another event dramatically threatened the existence of this fantastic complex: building the High Dam in Aswan. Therefore, UNESCO helped to move this complex to the next safe island between 1972 and 1980.